Republican Mitt Romney’s Willie Horton Moment.
(ThyBlackMan.com) Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney might as well have called President Obama the N word, when he referenced Obama’s birth certificate Friday during a campaign rally in Commerce, Michigan, because that’s just about the trajectory of his low brow political antics.
The presidential race between the two is hair splittingly close, and Mitt Romney minced no words when he slung mud at Obama’s Hawaiian birth. “No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised,” he said. Through his appeal to the “birthers,” Romney downgraded the 2012 Presidential Election and the 2012 Republican platform from 2.0 to 1.0—to us versus them—black versus white.
Mitt Romney attempted to appeal to what he perceives as white Middle class latent xenophobia by pitting the black democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama against white-bread Middle America and conventional Main Street. In so doing, Mitt Romney became just another cliché, playing to the Southern racial politics of yesteryear—or what we hope is a bygone era. But is it really? Romney’s hedging his bets that it’s not and that he can manipulate the American electorate with the specter of race and fear.
Whether serious or in jest, Mitt Romney’s comments dovetail with his recent racialized campaign ads suggesting erroneously that President Barack Obama’s political “base” is welfare recipients. According to Mitt Romney, Obama paved the way for slackers and welfare queens by taking the “work requirement” out of welfare; thereby, giving away Middle America’s hard earned tax dollars.
Interestingly enough, as with the Affordable Healthcare Act, for which Romney’s state laid the blueprint while he was governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney was also one of 29 Republican governors to endorse waivers for the welfare work requirement. To now accuse a black president of pandering to welfare recipients, when in reality the face of welfare is hardly black or brown, is clearly an attempt to conjure up Willie Horton style politics and Willie Horton style fear amongst the majority of voters, particularly affluent and middle class white voters. Mitt Romney’s attempt to Willie Hortonize Obama is a weak attempt to sully a president who many across the racial spectrum, according to polls, find highly relatable.
In reaching into the bitterness of social conservatism—remember Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) and “legitimate rape”—Mitt Romney is not only marginalizing African Americans, but he’s also offending many female voters through his guilt by association with a party platform that excludes freedom of choice. Polls show that women, including a vast numbers of white women, choose to align themselves with Obama, rather than with politicians who want to define what women can do with their bodies.
Some Republicans, such as Akin and in this instance Mitt Romney, with their over-the-top social conservatism and overt racist pandering are a step back in time. As Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush stated Sunday on Meet the Press, it’s time for the GOP to change its tenor and tone to remain relevant in the 21st century and beyond.
Lee Atwater went to his grave regretting the racial politics he evoked through his menacing Willie Horton ads aimed at terrorizing white America with the prospect of a president who would put a black rapist back on the street to victimize helpless white women. In so doing, he demonized not only black men, but a whole race of people. Through his use of stereotypes, Atwater undoubtedly aided then Vice President George H.W. Bush in defeating Michael Dukakis, his Democratic opponent in the 1988 presidential election. However, in the process, Atwater outed a toxic brand of racial politics that had existed since the days of Reconstruction. This brand of politics revels in fear, ignorance, racial war-mongering, and misinformation.
When will conservatives and the wealthy elite—like mega rich Mitt Romney—stop using fear of the menacing black male and alleged racial differences to manipulate the masses and divide and conquer? The souls of Black folk, white folk, every folk deserve better.
So Mitt Romney, presumptive Republican presidential nominee, don’t call Mr. President out of his name. Don’t pander to racists and xenophobes by making Barack Obama out to be just another Nigg*r. This isn’t a music video and it isn’t 1988, Bush v. Dukakis. The American people can see right through you. Let’s hope for the sake of a better America, we are far too sophisticated for the racial politics of yesteryear.
Staff Writer; Joy Freeman-Coulbary
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